Having read a few exchanges on social networks and blog posts by people I would describe as established, experienced bloggers about blogging stats and how difficult it is to measure success in the blogging world, I decided to write a post from the newbie blogger’s perspective about my experience to date: The Newbie Blogger Versus Blogging Stats. Your opinions on blogging are more than welcome.

But first of all, and mainly for those of you who don’t know my blog, Tales of Two Children – and there are a lot of you! – I would like to provide a little background to set the scene, so to speak. I started to build my blog in August 2015, but didn’t publish the blog until July 2016, so I have been live for five months – stay with me this has some bearing later. Like many a parent, I built my blog to create something for my two children, Fidget & Little Man, to look back on. There is a family gallery, a section called Notes to Fidget & Little Man, a section about our Road Trips, a product review section for toys and the like, a category called Soapboxing for any whinging I want to do about parenting, etc. There is also a section called ‘In 100 Words’. This is a creative writing section about the kids and relevant family situations and stories. In 100 Words, as far as I am aware, is quite a unique section. Consequently, I would categorise the In 100 Words category as a USP for the blog. It’s the category that has gained the most feedback, even though its status is just a vehicle for me to play at fiction writing on a small scale. Now, from my limited point of view, that provides a little variety for any readers who care to look. Something for everyone, so to speak.

So why did it take me almost a year to create and publish my blog? The answer is simple: I built the blog quite quickly and hovered over the publish button for months because I was worried what people would think. My inhibitions about starting a blog took over. Would readers laugh at my attempt at writing? Would I receive lots of negative feedback? All those worries and more were holding me back. Then my other half stepped in, courtesy of a metaphorical nudge in the ribs, so I hit the publish button, and … nothing. Or at least, not a lot.

It turned out that there wasn’t an audience eagerly waiting to applaud or berate. My posts were out there somewhere, but where were the hordes of eager readers that some bloggers have who appear to wait with bated breath to read and comment on each new post that’s published? I soon realised that they weren’t queuing up to read my blog. And why would they? Tales of Two Children is just another family-style blog amongst a plethora of family-style blogs that are already established. Or perhaps other blogs are just a better read. Who really knows? When my blog exploded onto the blogosphere with the impact of a damp firecracker, I had to do something else. Social media would be the key … or so the advocates say.

So I created a Facebook page that few people have liked, an Instagram account that appears to be doing okay, but again, who really knows! I have my Twitter account, Pinterest, and Google+ and lots of time dithering about on all of them and learning as I go, but with little success in the direction of my blog. It appears to me that although it is called social networking the actual number of people I interact with is quite low. Take my Twitter account, for instance: I have 2700+ followers, and have been quite selective with who I link with. I want to keep my followers and those I follow within the family-style genre as much as possible. I’m not just linking for the sake of numbers. But my interaction with them is minimal. Naughty me. Am I my own worst enemy? My thoughts on this are as follows: 1) I could read more blogs and interact more with others, which I do to a degree, but probably not as much as I could or should; 2) I could push more on my Twitter by tweeting more often and joining in with more conversations, but sometimes that’s just not me. 3) I could make it truly ‘social’ media by reading other people’s blogs when they read mine and hope we both keep supporting each other by reading future posts. After all, it’s not as though I can’t keep up with my small readership. But there appears to be little quid pro quo on social media … which is slightly ironic to say the least; after all, it is supposed to be social media. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And I’ve probably got a lot to learn.

The Newbie Blogger Versus Blogging Stats

But when it comes to stats, the crux of the matter for me is simple and can be expressed in three simple words: confusion, frustration and resignation. Confusion because there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to the ‘what, when, where or how’ when stats are brought into the equation. Frustration because my dashboard on WordPress thinks it’s a good idea to push my limited stats at me every chance it gets. And also because I take time to craft a post for it to fall flat on its face having had a mere 10-20 views if I’m lucky. Resignation because I have decided to go with the flow based on the social media conversations I have seen and blog posts I have read and try and ignore the ‘S’ word. I have come to the conclusion that it just makes sense to ignore the stats at my stage. I had found myself getting quite hung up on stats because my site produces them and because of the numbers of hits other blogs seem to get. Now, before anyone decides to remind me, I know I have only been blogging for five months, which is nothing. But it was so easy to get sucked in by stats: more hits per post, more followers on the blog (I think a lot of my followers are bots, but I’m not sure), more comments (good or bad!), more retweets, etcetera, etcetera. I started out wanting a readership and, truthfully, I still would like a bigger readership than I have. After all, I am publishing in a public arena. So I read other blogs to see what they were doing. I too wanted the streams of comments that follow their posts. That engagement seemed like a true mark of blogging success to me! Maybe I could emulate them? But, no. I want my voice, not someone else’s. So, now that I have read the glut of posts and conversations about stats, what I’m going to do is stop stressing about something which appears to be mainly out of my control and a bit hit and miss to say the least. I don’t want someone else’s voice or ideas, I want to publish my ideas in my voice so that when Fidget & Little Man read the blog, they will be reading my words, written by me in my style for them.

The Newbie Blogger Versus Blogging Stats

What I regularly do now is remind myself that I was creating this for my little family and myself, not to break any records or win any awards. However, I am sure more readers will come in time. It may be a slow organic growth, but what it will be is a slow organic growth based on my blogging premise and style.

Therefore, my advice to new bloggers like myself would be as follows:

 

1) Stay true to the premise of your blog. Don’t lose sight of your reason for blogging. (Because of my stats, I’ve already questioned my premise a dozen times, at least.)
2) Whether your post has 1 reader or 1000, don’t let the stats stand in your way. Because even if you have 1000 readers for one post but only 900 for the next, the only thing a dip in your stats is going to do is create a negative space in your head. And no matter what anyone says it’s human nature, or perhaps creative ego, to want to know what went wrong. But it should never be the main focus.
3) Enhance your own voice, by all means, but don’t try to copy the voice of others you think are more successful than you. Our blog is called Tales of Two Children for a reason. It’s about our kids and our family life with a creative writing element woven in. It’s made up of our tales and our stories, no one else’s. Therefore, for good or bad, it’s my voice in my words.
4) Be happy with and enjoy what you do. Happiness and enjoyment tend to be infectious, and that will come across in your writing.
5) Don’t worry about what other people think, just keep blogging. Just five months in and my most viewed post has 58 views. And I hear some bloggers debating whether 250–500 views or better should be higher considering they have been blogging for ‘X’ amount of time. I can understand this question; we all ask it about lots of different things. But there is no fixed formula, no universal growth pattern to apply. Companies I have worked for stress about social media stats, even when there is no real guideline to say ‘you should be here after this amount of time’. It is what it is and, hopefully, down the line, more because of what your posts make it. From now on I will be turning a deaf ear to the stat monster … just so long as my low stats aren’t an anomaly! (Please tell me you all started low!)
6) Stats are not the be all and end all of blogging. The main thing that stood out reading the comments that followed some established bloggers’ posts was how regularly the comment feedback emphasised a positive emotional value for the reader. As far as I’m concerned that type of feedback should be every bloggers goal and the only statistic that really matters, be it via one comment or two dozen, it tells you more than a mere number of hits ever will. The bottom line is, stats don’t tell you everything.

So with this in mind, what I am going to do is put my newbie blog into gear, slip the handbrake and continue in a forward direction. If I happen to pick up a convoy of readers along the way then fine. If it ends up that only a handful of followers continue to read my posts, but in the future the blog puts a smile on the faces of my kids, then that’s all good too. Forgive me for extending the driving metaphor a little farther, but I have come to the conclusion that blogging is an ongoing journey and that for the newbie blogger stats are just dead end streets off the main road, and I, for one, am not going to pull over.

This newbie blogger with his inexperienced opinion is now driving off into the sunset. Thanks for reading.

 

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